Iran shows missile, says is friend to neighbors
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran showed off an improved domestically made missile on Wednesday, the latest in a string of announcements about new military hardware it hopes will dissuade enemies from attacking.
The United States and Israel both say they do not rule out bombing Iran to prevent it getting nuclear weapons. Tehran, which started fuelling its first nuclear power station on Saturday, says its atomic programme is peaceful.
State television showed a test-firing of the nine-meter-long (30-ft) missile it said was a new version of the Fateh-110 weapon with an improved range of 250 km and better precision than previous models.
In recent days Iran has also publicized new mini-submarines, armed speed boats and a prototype long-range bomber drone. Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said neighboring countries had nothing to fear from Tehran's improved defenses.
He criticized Washington's decision this month to sell the latest Patriot interceptor missiles to Kuwait to counter a potential Iranian threat. Just across the Gulf, Kuwait could be in range of the upgraded Fateh-110.
"America is seeking to create a climate of fear about Iran by installing new (weapons) systems in the region, but there is no necessity for these systems," Vahidi said.
Many of Iran's Gulf Arab neighbors are concerned about the Shi'ite state's increasing clout in the region and the prospect that it might acquire nuclear weapons.
Kuwait has expressed safety concerns about Iran's Bushehr power plant which most analysts say does not increase Iran's chances of getting a nuclear weapon.
Vahidi reiterated Iran's offer of support to the Lebanese military, initially suggested after a deadly cross-border clash with Israel.
"Lebanon and the Lebanese army is our friend and if there were to be a request we are ready to help them," Vahidi was quoted as saying by the students news agency ISNA.
The offer from Iran, which supports Lebanon's militant Shi'ite group Hezbollah, could fuel Western fears that Tehran is increasing its influence near Israel's northern border.
Concern about Iran's nuclear programme center on its uranium enrichment programme and its missile capabilities.
Iran has long-range missiles including the Shahab 3 and the Sejil which could be used to hit Israel and regional U.S. bases.
Tehran is still awaiting the delayed delivery of Russian S-300 air Defense missile systems. The United States and Israel oppose Iran getting the systems as they could help it withstand any future air strikes against its nuclear sites.
(Reporting by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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